Funded! This project was successfully funded on April 29, 2012.

Update #42

It's On!

Hey Everyone!

As Jordan mentioned in his Developer’s Diary last Friday, we have some exciting stuff coming in the next couple of weeks and the team has been hard at work to deliver.

“What sort of exciting stuff”, you ask?

How about a look at Shadowrun Returns in action!!!

On Sunday, March 10th at South By Southwest in Austin, TX, Jordan and I will do a LIVE DEMO of Shadowrun Returns and take questions from the audience. Also in attendance will be our Guest of Honor, Erik Dahlman, one of our $10,000 Backers (and resident of Austin).

SXSW is another great opportunity to get some press for the game and help get the word out. But don’t worry, you won’t need to attend the show to see the game in action! We’re releasing a VIDEO WALKTHROUGH of Shadowrun Returns gameplay, narrated by Jordan and me, the Friday before the show. We’ll release our first set of REAL SCREENSHOTS, too. 

And don’t forget, we’ll also be at Seattle’s Emerald City Comic Con tomorrow, March 2, talking about the game, answering questions, and doing the dwarf dance as little as possible. We’ll be in the Gaming Room at 12pm. Hope you can join us! 

To whet your appetite for all that, here are some characters you’ll see in action next week. 

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And here's some concept art from the Seattle campaign.

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And finally, here’s a pic of the studio so you can see the team doing their thing. 

Time to get back to work! 

Mitch


Update #41

Jordan's Dev Diary: Power to the People

I figured you’d seen enough of me in our update videos for awhile (maybe a lifetime) so I asked other members of Harebrained Schemes’ collection of supremely talented oddballs to write the first several developer diaries, but they kicked the ball back to me for this one.

Of all the games I’ve developed in my 33 year career, Shadowrun Returns is the biggest thrill. As in thrill ride. As in rollercoaster. As in completely-balls-to-the-wall-adrenaline-charged-scare-the-shit-out-of-you-and-make-you-love-life experience. Thanks for making it all happen! 

When we launched our Kickstarter campaign, we had a modest game in mind (as our minimum funding level indicated) but your immediate and overwhelming financial support enabled us to expand our vision (and your enthusiastic expectations demanded that we do so). Those elevated expectations continue to this day, as illustrated by Shadowrun Returns’ inclusion in five “Most Anticipated Games of 2013” lists. It is both a great honor and weighty responsibility for our little game to be listed next to AAA games with 20 to 30 times our development budget! 

When you net out all the costs of Kickstarter, Amazon/PayPal, Microsoft (for the license), the production cost of our Backer rewards, and the picking, packing, and shipping cost of those rewards, we have just under $1.2 million to actually spend on making the game - which is amazing compared to our modest initial plans but nothing compared to today's 100-million-dollar RPG behemoths - but that’s ok because we have two secret weapons! 

The first of these powerful weapons is what I call “The Infinite Resolution Rendering Engine” an incredible piece of biotechnology developed over millions of years, capable of presenting the audience such vivid imagery so real they can smell and even taste it. Yes you guessed it, it’s the gray stuff between your ears and the imagination it is capable of. We can’t afford to put everything in our imaginations onto the screen, so instead we decided to put it into your imagination via “theater of the mind”. By combining beautiful environments and characters with cleverly-integrated text, we hope to inspire you to “see” and “hear” things that we could never afford to put on your screen or out of your speakers. 

Shadowrun Returns integrates text into gameplay in four ways:

  • Chapter and Scene Introductions set the context and emotional landscape for the scene you are about to play
  • In-world GM pop-ups describe the sights, sounds, and smells that your character is experiencing at this moment. For those of you who are unfamiliar with tabletop role-playing, GM stands for “Game Master” - the person charged with setting the stage and refereeing the action. 
  • In-world character speech bubbles provide short quips from your characters and our NPCs, providing insights into their actions. Of course, sometimes, they’re just for entertainment. 
  • Our conversation window allows you to have in-depth branching conversations with characters in the world, as well as GM narration that helps bring those characters to life. (Although we can’t animate the single tear traveling down the street urchin’s face, we can type it!) 

These theater of the mind tools can be used in really inventive ways. Trevor King-Yost, one of our designers, put together a wonderful little sample game which combined an old school movement puzzle and classic text adventure using a combination of character movement, word balloons, and the conversation window. The team broke into spontaneous applause when they saw it. 

Our second secret weapon is . . . YOU. Shadowrun started as a tabletop RPG in which we provided players an interesting world and rules for creating characters and stories within that world. Of course we loved to tell our own stories in that world and published lots of source materials, adventures, and novels in it but the key driver of Shadowrun’s success over the last 24 years is the creativity of its Game Masters and their players. It was a primary mission for me to extend that creative outlet to the digital world. Thus a cornerstone of Shadowrun Returns, from inception, has been to release our content development tools so that you could tell your own stories. 

When we started our Kickstarter campaign, we envisioned a true top down game (like we had in Crimson: Steam Pirates) because that’s what we could afford with the budget we posted on Kickstarter. But it was clear from the first day that this was not what you were hoping for – you wanted more depth and immersion. So we decided that an isometric view was necessary to deliver what a top-down view couldn’t provide. 

While I’m happy with that decision, the art and engineering involved in constructing a rich isometric world is expensive! It's definitely added development challenges over the course of the project but we’re really proud of what we've managed to accomplish in our isometric game world.

Over the last eight months, we have invested a great deal of time and money into creating an editor powerful enough for us to tell the stories we want and (hopefully) accessible enough for you to wield its power and tell your stories too. 

Let me take you through some of what the game editor does so you get a better sense of what you can do with it. 

Building Environments 

To achieve the highly-detailed and yet “painterly” look we wanted for Shadowrun Returns, we chose to combine 2D isometric environmental art with 3D polygonal characters. A key benefit of this approach is that level design becomes much simpler and does not require a 3D design tool. Both interior and exterior environments are assembled using a large set of graphic building blocks which can be combined in an infinite number of ways to create an incredible variety of both gameplay spaces and visual appeal. Beyond walls, doors, and furniture, GMs use the game editor to place character spawn locations, NPC travel paths, trigger regions, interactable objects, and scene lighting.

(Click to Enlarge Image)

Non-Player Character AI 

When you place an NPC into the world, you select which character template you want to start from and then have the ability to customize everything about it - from its attributes and skills to its weapons, spells, equipment, and outfit. One of the key choices in this process is your selection of the character’s’ AI profile, which determines how the NPC will behave in combat. The AI system inspects an NPC’s attributes, skills, and equipment and uses them in conjunction with the chosen AI profile to decide which action to take. It brings a smile to my face everytime I see an NPC Mage throw a fireball at my characters because I had them bunched too close, making them a tempting target.

(Click to Enlarge Image)

Scene Logic 

The true power of our game editor is its event driven trigger system. A trigger is an action that only happens if all its conditions are met - in other words, classic IF/THEN logic. In many game editors, this kind of logic is created with a scripting language but I wanted to avoid that because many of us storytellers are not programmers (and don’t want to become one). So our logic is created by using context-sensitive dropdown menus that auto-populate with the characters, regions and objects the GM adds to the scene. After adding them to the scene, they can be referred to in the conditions and actions of the triggers. You still have to carefully think through the logic of what you want to happen and it requires iteration to get things to work exactly how you imagine. But at least you never have to worry about syntax errors! Through triggers, GMs can cause almost anything to happen in a scene. GMs can choreograph the movement of NPCs, change their AI behaviors, change the environment, and branch the gameplay based upon the player’s actions. 

(Click to Enlarge Image)

Conversations 

Character conversations are your primary way to express the depth of your story, so it was important to get it right for GMs to author and for players to consume. We started with a keyword-based system derived from the SNES game but after mocking this up and playing with it I found that clicking on a single word made me feel like I was not participating in the conversation. I felt more like I was performing an inquisition. One word at a time. It was like, “Sim-chip! Talk!” 

Shadowrun has a “voice” to it, a staccato rhythm of conversation inspired by writers like Raymond Chandler and William Gibson, and that just didn’t come across by clicking a word. So we pivoted to a more traditional branching conversation tree in which players select from sentences that capture not just the facts but also the flavor of the conversation. One of the cool things this approach also allowed us to do was to integrate our triggers into conversations. That means the branches of a conversation can open or close based upon character attributes, skills, what the player did in a recent combat, what they did in a previous scene - almost anything really. Similarly, conversation choices can fire triggers that have enormous impact on the plot and gameplay. 

Lastly, conversations are not just for characters. GMs can use the conversation system to make lots of things interactive. For instance, entering pass codes for doors or computers, buying a pack of cigarettes from a vending machine, or searching through objects on a desk can all be done with the conversation engine and a little imagination.

(Click to Enlarge Image)

With our game editor in place, the creation of our Seattle campaign is underway. We’re all psyched about the story we’re telling and, like most perfectionists, we’ll always want more time to tweak and polish it. But for me, the stories we tell aren’t what’s most important. 

The real value of Shadowrun Returns is in the stories you’ll be able to tell. As a collective you'll be able to apply a vast amount of creativity, ingenuity, development time, and community collaboration to your Shadowrun stories, and I'm sure you'll come up with things in your stories and gameplay that we didn't even dream possible. And I, for one, can’t wait to play it!

In closing, let me take a moment to be a proud poppa and say a heartfelt, huge thank you to the team at Harebrained Schemes who embarked on this journey with me and for their incredibly hard work, commitment to quality, and awesome ego-less collaboration. You make long the work days a pleasure! 

Keep tuned as we have some real exciting stuff coming in the next couple of weeks. . . 

All the best, Jordan 

PS: Our third secret weapon is . . . YOU! AGAIN! 

As I’ve said before, we put every dollar you gave us, and many more of our own, into creating Shadowrun Returns which means that we don’t have a marketing budget to reach what we hope are a lot more people who might like the game. So we are really counting on you to help spread the word when we get closer to launch - more on that later. 


Update #40

New Art!

Hi Everyone!

As you may know, Game Informer magazine did a big article about us in their February issue. For those of you who didn’t see it, here’s the art from the article. Please note that these images are not in-game screenshots. They’re concept pieces assembled from real game assets and posed characters. 

Take a look:  http://harebrained-schemes.com/post/new-art/

Hope you like them!


Update #39

Happy New Year of Shadowrun!

Hi everyone, Mitch again.  

Hope your holidays were great. A lot has happened since the last time we talked! Sit back, crack a SoyCaf, and let’s get started. There’s a lot to cover. . .


Let's start with a progress report!

On the code-side, over 30 character skills and abilities are in the game and working. That’s stuff like etiquette, snapshot, and conjuring. On top of that, decking, rigging, spirit summoning, and spellcasting are in too! This list represents a huge push from our engineering team to get the first draft of these features in before the end of the year and they delivered. Now, before you get too excited, all these systems are using “programmer art” so they’re. . . not pretty. But they prove the systems, can be tested, bug-fixed, and iterated upon before we spend the time prettifying them. It’s starting to feel like a game. It’s got bugs and there’s a lot to do but it’s starting to feel like Shadowrun. 

But wait, there’s more. NPCs are talking! Our base conversation system is in and working. We’ve got branching dialog in the game that performs checks to determine what dialog options to give you - we plan to note the skill/attribute/race, etc. that allowed that option to appear. We (and you) can do all sorts of cool things with our conversation system combined with our trigger system. Things like attaching a conversation to a window prop so it feels like you’re overhearing people on the other side of the window or having a conversation that convinces someone to turn off the fog of war in an area and escort you to the mainframe. 

One big task that can’t be underestimated in all of this was creating test environments for each of the above features to ensure they work according to our spec and continue to work while we bugfix and iterate on them. That took our designers a good chunk of time but it’s worth it because now we can have interns regularly run tests independently. It also gave everyone plenty of practice with the editor. 

Our next undertaking is a major overhaul of the user interface. As you may remember from Thanksgiving, we were living with interface version 2.0 to see how we liked it. We wanted to give it time so everyone could play with it for awhile and enter their comments and suggestions on a master list so we could review it in its entirety. Mike, our Art Director, wrapped his brain around all the feedback and came up with a holistic plan to address everyone’s issues. After reviewing it with the team and making a few revisions and additions, implementation began this week. Everyone’s very excited about interface version 3.0 and can’t wait play it. 

Last on the production-side, our Audio Director has been collaborating with our composers to make sure we get the right sound for the game. Marshall and Gavin are working on Seattle while Sam tackles Berlin. I think Sam has the tougher job because he’s working without concept art but he and Alistair (our Audio Director) think they’re on the right track. I love hearing the work-in-progress music because they throw in little bits of their SNES and SEGA tunes here and there. 

So far, we’re tracking to our May/June timeframe but my palms are a little sweaty. This next bit will give you an idea why. 

Here’s what’s up with the Backer Rewards and survey. 

This is the deal: Kickstarter’s Backer Survey feature only allows us to do ONE survey ever. If we get something wrong, we can’t do another. In addition, that survey would only cover Kickstarter Backers and we’d have to do a separate system for PayPal Backers. As an added complication, if someone wants to change their mailing address or something, we’d have to do it by hand which is error-prone. On top of that, the KS survey tool won’t allow you to upload your photo for the Doc Wagon cards or NPC & PC character art. 

 We saw a few Kickstarter game projects set up databases so their Backers could log in and personally maintain their data and we thought it would be perfect for us too. In fact, Brian Fargo from inXile was cool enough to send us his Wasteland II database code to save us time. But we also wanted to hook up the database to the game so it would automatically know who should get in-game rewards like the special ability and Doc Wagon. 

Unfortunately, we were trying to work with an external partner for this so it wouldn’t distract the core team quite so much, but it wound up not working out to the quality level we were happy with, so we’re going to take a step back and make sure we can deliver something we (and you) will be happy with. 

In the meantime, we’re starting some of the reward fulfillment process by hand. Backers at the $1000 level should have already received emails asking them to send us their photos so we can translate them into NPCs for the game. And Backers at the $2500 level and above will receive an email shortly asking for a photo so we can create their custom PC as well. 

IMPORTANT: The deadline for getting your photos back to us is February 28th. 

If we don’t get your photo via email by then, we won’t be able to get your NPC or PC into the game. So watch out for that mail from Robin@hbs-studios.com and contact her if you don’t get the mail by Monday. 

We deeply appreciate our Backers’ patience about the rewards. Believe me, we haven’t forgotten about you! Far from it. We’re just trying to be smart and focus on delivering the best game we can. 

Check out the coverage Shadowrun Returns is getting! 

In addition to a bunch of great new features, something else exciting happened at the end of the year. Shadowrun Returns appeared on three “Most Anticipated Games of 2013” lists: Shacknews.com, Gametrailers.com, and PocketTactics.com

Most. Anticipated. Pressure? What pressure? 

There was also a nice interview with me on a Russian site called Game Star. http://gamestar.ru/english/mitch_gitelman_harebrained_scemes_interview_eng.html

As we told you in December, GAME INFORMER did a big article on Shadowrun Returns for their February print and digital magazines along with an article called The Archetypes of Shadowrun Returns. http://www.gameinformer.com/b/features/archive/2013/01/02/shadowrun-returns-online-feature.aspx The magazine article is really cool - good writing, great layout, 6 pages of coverage! 

To get great coverage like this (over 6m people will see it!), game developers are often required to guarantee "exclusive content" for a period of time. That exclusive content, in this case, includes a couple of new images created out of in-game assets (like the Stuffer Shack scene released last year), a shot of our version of Jake Armitage from the SNES game, and a shot of our editor. Due to the exclusivity, we can’t include those in this post but will include them in Mike’s next dev diary where he’ll talk about how the environments are created. 

In order to expand the audience beyond our original ~40k Backers, we still need to engage the gaming community at large in order to reach a wider audience. Even if we sometimes have to make special arrangements like this one, our default is to try and share the information with you first - you are our Backers, after all. We hope you understand. 

Without further delay, here’s a rundown of the new information the article mentions: 

  • The mag talks a little bit about the story of the game, “A woman named Jessica Watts approaches your newly created protagonist for help. Her brother Sam, your old friend, has been murdered. You’re the only one she can trust and she begs you to come to Seattle to figure out what happened. We thought the only appropriate place to start a Shadowrun videogame was the morgue, so the first scene is there”, explains Weisman. “Your dead friend Sam is there, and like any film noir tale, the first character you meet is the Lone Star detective, Mitch Macklusky, who is immediately antagonistic. From there you find out that there’s been a series of murders; these people have all been found with organs cut out. You’re charged with solving Sam’s murder, but as you did into that, more and more unravels, and the mystery expands from the lowest echelons of society, like the biker gangs, all the way up to the dynastic control of one of the largest megacorporations.”
  • While creating your character, you’ll answer a short set of questions that help determine your character’s background. (This isn’t implemented yet, so like all of our ideas, we’ll see how it comes out in the wash.)
  • In combat, we simulate stun damage by reducing your Action Points. So a punch may do 5 Hit Points and 10 Action Points of damage, reducing your ability to respond to the best of your ability. • Berlin is going to be released as downloadable content after the game launches and will be free to Backers.
  • We also hope to release downloadable environment packs, like the Ork Underground, regularly so Player-GMs have more places to create their own stories. 

Pre-orders of Shadowrun Returns are now available! 

We’ve opened up pre-orders for Shadowrun Returns on http://harebrained-schemes.com/. Tell all your friends! We took careful pains to ensure that our Backers’ Rewards remained special and exclusive. So while the highest pre-order gets the USB Dog Tags, it won’t come with the Collector’s Edition Boxed set and other goodies that come at that level. 

We need Runners! 

As Jordan said during his Fireside Chat, we haven’t reserved any of our funding for marketing expenses and it’s important to get the word out about the game to get more people “into the tent”. The more people we pull in, the more vibrant the community, the more fan-created stories we get to play, and the more support and content HBS can afford to deliver after launch. 

So we need your help by sharing the love. Please get the word out about the Game Informer article to attract new people. When you see an article about the game somewhere, don’t just Like it. Share it, retweet it, and start a conversation about it. 

  • Are you a Facebook person? I am. (Maybe a little too much.) We post articles, news, and tidbits on https://www.facebook.com/HarebrainedSchemes all the time. Check it out.
  • I still don’t really get the Twitter thing (old) but we tweet pretty often and retweet Shadowlands stuff too. Connect with us @webeharebrained 
  • Do you go to www.shadowrun.com? It’s a great place to post suggestions, start over-the-top flashmob plans, debate features and ask questions. I post there all the time, so come say hi!
  • And don’t be afraid to send ideas and suggestions for spreading the word! All of us are more creative than just some of us. The address is info@hbs-studios.com. 

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed underground operatives can make Shadowrun Return; indeed, it's the only thing that will.” --Lofwyr 

Upcoming Events 

Want to meet Jordan and me, ask questions in person, and maybe see some new stuff? We’re planning to be at two shows coming up and we’d love to meet you.

  • The first is Emerald City Comic Con - it’s our hometown, after all. The show is March 1 - 3 and I’m looking forward to geeking out there. http://www.emeraldcitycomicon.com/
  • Next is South By Southwest in Austin, TX. SXSW is March 8 - 17 and sounds really cool this year. Lots of indie game developers and Kickstarter projects. http://sxsw.com/

Just wanted to get those on your radar. We’ll provide more details as we get closer. 

Thanks for the support, the feedback, and the questions. We appreciate it.

Mitch 



Update #38

It's Awakening Day!

Hey there, everyone! Happy Awakening Day!

Even though the 6th World’s Awakening was technically (according to 80s logic) in 2011, we at Harebrained Schemes, along with our friends at Catalyst Game Labs and Cliffhanger Productions are excited that today marks the start of The Year of Shadowrun. It’s going to be a fun (and REALLY busy) year of new games set in the Shadowrun Universe. To celebrate, we’re launching Shadowlands. It’s a series of blog posts and Tweets from the 2050s, so if you want, follow it on Twitter and Facebook. Oh, and if you’re a 2070s fan, check out Jackpoint!

Anywho, if you haven’t been subject to the apocalypse and/or surprise bodily transformation, we assume you’re sufficiently capable of watching Jordan’s Fireside Chat Video. Did you notice the music at the beginning and end? It’s new Shadowrun music! The samples in the video aren’t so much tracks from the game as they are homages to the music from the classic Shadowrun games, meant to give you a little taste of what’s coming up in SR:R.

The opening clip is by Sam Powell, who composed the music for the SEGA game, and who’s going to be working on the music for our Berlin story. The closing clip is by is by Marshall Parker and his son Gavin. Marshall worked on the original SNES game, so we’re really happy to have them on board working on music for our Seattle story. We hope you like ‘em!

In addition to Jordan’s fireside chat, we thought we’d give you another look behind the curtain... Here’s the latest developer diary, from grizzled designer Mike Mulvihill! He’s been working with our other designers, Kevin Maloney and Trevor King-Yost, to figure out the ins and outs of Shadowrun’s mechanics.

Mike Mulvihill - 12/21/12 (here's Mike showing off his figure)

Eight months ago, while crunching on Strikefleet Omega, Jordan and Mitch started a flurry of high-energy conversations. ”We’re bringing Shadowrun back ”… “An authentic turn-based game”… “Kickstarter!”

We had plenty of tools to work with and plenty of feedback on where to start (thank you Shadowrun fans!!!)

25+ years of pen & paper RPG products using four very different rules sets (for better or worse), one of which I led
A SEGA game that had a great and fond following all these years later
A SNES game that had just as great and fond following as well
My experience in translating SR into other game types (a card game, an action figure game and other stuff)
Millions of written words

With all those tools, the excitement of the community, and the trust of Jordan and Mitch, my only possible answer was - “Let’s make a game!”

So, where to start?

Our first decision was simply one of ideology. In order to ensure that the “feel” of Shadowrun would translate to our new format, we started boiling down what was most loved by fans, no matter how they were introduced to the world of Shadowrun. As designers, we needed to juggle a handful of core elements: the uniqueness of the world, the stories we want to tell, the choice of actions players need to take, the risk and reward of making those choices, the characters’ growth, and especially the fun that players spoke about when playing all the previous versions of Shadowrun.

We also knew the game we wanted to make: a story-driven team-based tactical game, which reflects the feel of the old-school pen and paper RPG. The first order of business was codifying the tactics. To achieve this, we needed to hit our first concrete goal – creating a mathematical base that the engineers could implement and that we could use as our core design engine. We decided to call this the Action Calculator (AC1).

To mimic Shadowrun’s feel for the majority of the players, we wanted an Attribute / Skill / Specialization hierarchy like the ones was used in all of the electronic games and the first three editions of Shadowrun. Setting the game in the early 2050’s reinforced that decision. Now it was fun with numbers… and yes, for all you old-schoolers, we actually attempted to model rolling handfuls of six-sided dice. Unfortunately, the number-crunching in AC1 proved that chucking all those d6s around was not sustainable for what we wanted and not expandable into the other systems we’d planned.

From the ashes of AC1 came AC2: a new mathematical approach that doesn’t necessarily use the old math systems of the RPGs but mimics them in order to ensure that we’re true to the feeling of Shadowrun combat. With that math done and with AC2 passing the old “eyeball test”, we took our mechanics to the next level - we created a Shadowrun board game. That’s right: we played with miniatures, terrain, dice rolling, and “role-playing”, while I fed numbers into various spreadsheets to see what felt good and what...didn’t.

Each day, we would add a new twist to the board game: burst fire, shotguns, grenades, magic, swords, healing, full auto, etc. The next day, I’d rebuild the spreadsheet, adjusting numbers that felt out of whack, and adding new calcs to push the limits of what we could do (cover modifiers, armor, staging of damage up and down, stun effects, etc.).

To finish up the board game task, we wrote down our “mechanics” in rulebook form and it became the first working design document. I‘m not sure any of the original words of that document are still there...but that’s a whole other story! Nevertheless, AC2 stands today, along with over 25 spreadsheet tabs of older versions of the math engine - but most importantly, it still stands.

Turning the math aspect over to Engineering and watching them develop it into a game I could actually play on screen AND SEE IT WORK was just an incredible feeling. Even more incredible was knowing that the system didn’t just drive combat. It was the basis for the magic, decking and summoning systems as well! Also, we were able to guarantee every advancement a PC makes to his stats will have a noticeable in-game improvement. I’m actually really proud of that.

Some will say that real game design begins at this point - when it’s on-screen. This is when you take your “baby” and let the team try it. It’s when, as Jordan likes to say, “no plan survives contact with the enemy”. You end up answering a lot of “working right” questions....

Do the cover modifiers work right or do they favor dwarves?
Is the recoil calc for Burst Fire working right or does it make you avoid using Burst at all?
Are the grenades working right or does a missed skill check fling them too far from the target?

And every tester comes back with suggestions for improving what you did and most of the time they are absolutely right. This is a tough time for designers because it becomes a quandary between intent, execution and expectation. We have to explain what we intended the action/result to be. We have to check to see that the engineers have executed (or can execute) our intention. And then we have to evaluate that what we put on screen matches what we think the player’s expectations are.  (Here's us. From left to right, Kevin Maloney, Trevor King-Yost, and me: Mike Mulvihill).

It can be a challenging process in such a collaborative studio because we all try to agree that there’s problem and then we all try to agree on the right fix. But we're all crammed into the same room and facing the same deadlines, so the decision-making is often pretty fast. We basically do everything fast - but not so fast that we take shortcuts. “Go fast; don’t rush.” is Mitch’s development mantra.

But making the math work isn’t all we’ve been up to! While doing all that, we were also tasked with many other designs, like the interaction of character abilities and skills, working with the engineers on the AI (as you read last time), the conversation system, gear, NPC and Awakened creature creation, the story itself, and finally, the editor which allows us (and eventually you) to make the actual missions and tell the story. Look for more detail on the editor in the future. It’s pretty sweet.

I hope that gives you some insight into what we in design have been working on and producing over the last few months. And as I like to say...

Have Fun!
Play Games!

Mike Mulvihill


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    1397 backers

    THE ALL-DIGITAL REWARD BUNDLE This reward bundle is completely independent of all other reward levels, does not include any previous rewards, and is not added to reward levels above. A Digital Downloadable COPY OF THE GAME, DRM free on PC, Mac, or Linux + one totally sweet, exclusive desktop WALLPAPER for your PC, Mac, or mobile tablet + your character will start the game with a SPECIAL ABILITY only available to backers + a PDF version of the Shadowrun Returns Anthology, an ILLUSTRATED BOOK OF SHORT STORIES written for the game and edited by Jordan Weisman, the creator of Shadowrun + you will also get the IN-GAME DocWagon benefit of a fully-armed emergency ambulance or chopper to save your team of runners when the drek hits the fan + a DRM-free digital version of the GAME SOUNDTRACK. This bundle includes no physical goods and helps with VAT, duty and shipping costs for our international backers.

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  • Pledge $60 or more
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    4378 backers

    Previous rewards + a DRM-free digital version of the GAME SOUNDTRACK + a Shadowrun Returns "BACKER" T-SHIRT + a PERSONALIZED DOC WAGON CARD will be sent to your home + you will also get the IN-GAME DocWagon benefit of a fully-armed emergency ambulance or chopper to save your team of runners when the drek hits the fan. Note: This is an in-game service only. No armed medical extraction team will actually arrive at your home. More details in the FAQ. (Please add $5 for international shipping) Note: This is an in-game service only. No armed medical extraction team will actually arrive at your home. More details in the FAQ. (Please add $5 for international shipping)

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  • Pledge $100 or more
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    1128 backers

    Previous rewards + A HARDCOVER EDITION of the Shadowrun Returns Anthology + your NAME IN THE CREDITS of the game AND the anthology book + a GOLD Doc Wagon card sent to your home. (Please add $15 for international shipping)

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  • Pledge $125 or more
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    4249 backers

    Previous rewards + a DELUXE BOX EDITION including the game disc, soundtrack disc, a mini-poster, and—check this—a Shadowrun Returns USB Dog Tag set, containing DRM-free versions of the game (PC/Mac/Linux) and soundtrack (and maybe one or two other surprises, too). (Please add $15.00 for international shipping.)

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  • Pledge $175 or more
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    379 backers

    Previous rewards (excluding the All-Digital Bundle) + ALL 3 Shadowrun Returns "BACKER" T-SHIRTS. These 3 shirts are NOT in addition to the shirt you get at the $60 level. At this level you get 3 shirts total. (Please add $15 for international shipping)

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  • Pledge $250 or more
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    417 backers Limited (583 left of 1000)

    Previous rewards + A SPECIAL EDITION, SIGNED & NUMBERED HARDCOVER of the Shadowrun Returns Anthology (this replaces the edition you get at $100) + EARLY ACCESS to the LEVEL EDITOR so that your shadowruns can be the first into the game (date for editor TBD). (Please add $15 for international shipping)

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  • Pledge $500 or more
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    100 backers All gone!

    Previous rewards + the shadowruns you design will be MARKED with a special GLYPH so they'll be highlighted and easy to identify + a PLATINUM Doc Wagon card sent to your home. (Please add $15 for international shipping)

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  • Pledge $1,000 or more
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    41 backers Limited (9 left of 50)

    Previous rewards + we'll use YOUR IMAGE to CREATE AN NPC CHARACTER for the game. It's our choice what NPC you'll be but if you have a suggestion, we'll listen.

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  • Pledge $2,500 or more
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    12 backers Limited (8 left of 20)

    Previous rewards + we'll create the art for one EXCLUSIVE CUSTOM PLAYER CHARACTER based upon your description and/or sketches. When your friends hire your character, they'll get to see it too! (Limit 2 revisions.)

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  • Pledge $5,000 or more
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    0 backers Limited (10 left of 10)

    Previous rewards + 1 Large or 2 Small custom art assets created for you to be used EXCLUSIVELY in your missions (Limit 2 revisions) + a CONSULTATION with our Art director and Level Designer to help tune one of your shadowruns.

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  • Pledge $7,500 or more
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    0 backers Limited (5 left of 5)

    Previous rewards + spend the AFTERNOON AND EVENING at Harebrained Schemes World Headquarters. You’ll have LUNCH WITH JORDAN AND THE DEVELOPMENT TEAM and then PLAY SHADOWRUN WITH JORDAN. Your Game Master will be Mike Mulvihill, who led Shadowrun game development at FASA Corp. (You must be able to travel to Redmond, WA).

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  • Pledge $10,000 or more
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    3 backers All gone!

    Previous rewards + Mike Mulvihill, who led Shadowrun game development at FASA Corp., will COME TO YOUR TOWN TO RUN A TABLETOP GAME OF SHADOWRUN FOR YOU AND FIVE OF YOUR FRIENDS. (He'll even buy some snacks.)

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Funding period

- (24 days)